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How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

Learn how to grow tomatillos and add them to your list of what to grow in your garden this year. Tomatillos are simple to grow with a tart distinctive flavor that is delicious in salsa and sauces. Tomatillos thrive in warm weather and are often heavy producers.

How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

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Here are 7 tips for growing tomatillos:

1. Plant tomatillos at the best time

Tomatillos prefer warm soil (70-80℉) and are frost and cold-sensitive. Use a soil thermometer to check soil temperature before planting. Plant tomatillos from seed or transplant. 

If starting from seed indoors, start seeds 4 – 8 weeks before the last frost. Not sure when your last frost date is? Enter your zip code into this Frost Date Calculator.

Seeds are available from Seedsnow.com.

In the low desert of Arizona:

  • Start seeds indoors: December – January and May – July
  • Plant transplants outside: February 15 – March  and July 15 – September
How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

2. How to plant tomatillos? Plant tomatillos deeply

Tomatillo means “little tomato” in Spanish, and just like tomatoes, tomatillos can be planted deeply – up to the top leaves of the plant. Roots will form along the stem of the buried tomatillo and feed the growing plant.

How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

3. Give tomatillos plenty of room

Tomatillo plants are large and sprawling. Space tomatillos 2 ½ feet apart. Tomatillos also do well when planted in containers (at least 5-gallon size). Tomatillos can be left to sprawl on the ground but trellising makes harvesting easier. 

How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

4. Plant an amigo for your tomatillo

A key tip for learning how to grow tomatillos is to make sure to plant at least 2 plants. Tomatillos are not self-fruitful, and it is important to plant at least 2 tomatillo plants near each other to ensure fruiting.

How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

5. Care for growing tomatillos correctly

  • Tomatillos need even moisture to prevent blossom end rot.
  • Don’t give tomatillos supplemental nitrogen. Too much nitrogen results in more foliage and less fruit. Tomatillos do well with regular application of an organic fertilizer that is high in phosphorous and potassium.
  • Tomatillos grown in the low desert of Arizona benefit from afternoon shade. This post shares ways to add shade to your garden.
How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

6. Harvest tomatillos at the right time

Fruit typically begins to ripen 60 – 80 days after transplant and continues to produce through frost. Picking tomatillos as they ripen encourages the plant to keep producing.

Underripe

Overripe

Just Right

Loose husk

Very dry husk

Husk just beginning to dry out

Fruit is small and hard

Yellow fruit

Fruit fills husk

 

Larger seeds

Slight softening of fruit

 

Less flavor

Best flavor, smaller seeds

How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

7. Use tomatillos in a variety of ways

Once you know how to grow tomatillos you’ll have plenty to share with family and friends. Store tomatillos in the refrigerator and leave husks on until ready to use. Fresh tomatillos can be chopped and added to guacamole or salsa. Tomatillos are delicious roasted or sautéed and added to sauces and salsa.

How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

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How to Grow Tomatillos: 7 Tips for Growing Tomatillos

Dawn

Friday 20th of January 2023

I had a bumper crop 2 years ago. The next year they came back without me planting anything. Will they continue to come back in the same spot? How will I rotate in this case?

Angela Judd

Saturday 21st of January 2023

Tomatillos often reseed from dropped fruit. It is better to rotate where they are planted. If you get another volunteer, gently transplant it to another area of your garden if possible.

Delilah

Wednesday 5th of October 2022

My bush is huge. Should I be pruning for larger fruit. I have some tomatillos but they seem very small. I live in Tucson and plants were put out end of July.

Angela Judd

Thursday 6th of October 2022

You can prune for size as needed, you may get less fruit, but larger.

Susan

Sunday 28th of August 2022

about 50% of my mature tomatillos had a burrowing larvae inside that developed a winged form and escaped through the same tiny hole. How do I avoid this pest next year and do you know what it is?

Angela Judd

Monday 29th of August 2022

I’m sorry. Not sure of the exact species, but here are a couple of things you can do. Put floating row cover over the plants. You can also treat with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) an organic option that is harmful to caterpillars but not to other insects, etc. https://amzn.to/3CGQKuw

Emma Hudson

Monday 15th of August 2022

Hi, Thank you for all this great information. I have a question I hope that you might be able to answer. I'm growing (in pots) for the first time in the Netherlands and we're having a warm, sunny (sometimes very hot) summer. Quite a lot of my tomatillos are turning yellow before they fill the husk. Do you know what would cause that? Plus, the ones that are good need to be picked before the husks turn brown/burst (basically as soon as they fill the husk). Is that normal?

Mary Glidden

Wednesday 29th of September 2021

My tomatillos grew nicely but the fruit was not as big as it should have been. I know they don't get real large but most were size of small cherry tomatoes. Is there something I can do to help make plant grow the fruit larger?

Angela Judd

Saturday 2nd of October 2021

It might be the variety. You could also try fertilizing with a bloom/fruiting fertilizer. https://amzn.to/3B7eLYj